Rugby 13.5.2017 09:20 pm

Blitzboks recover well to close in on series win

Cecil Afrika continues to be an excellent playmaker for the Blitzboks. Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images.

Cecil Afrika continues to be an excellent playmaker for the Blitzboks. Photo: Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images.

Scotland surprise Neil Powell’s men early in Paris but the setback proves short-lived as normal service resumes.

The Blitzboks took an important step towards the overall World Rugby Sevens Series title in Paris on Saturday, qualifying for a ninth consecutive Cup quarterfinals spot in the 2016/17 series.

They will face Samoa in the last eight, the same opponent who knocked them out of contention at the same stage of last year’s tournament.

South Africa have won 42 of 68 matches played between the two countries.

This will be the first time they meet Samoa in the current series.

South Africa lead their nearest contender for the overall title, defending champions Fiji, by 25 points with one tournament left, and by reaching the Cup quarters kept their stronghold on the grip they have established in their title run.

The Blitzboks recovered very well from an early loss against Scotland in their opening game in the Stade Jean Bouin, scoring 66 points in the following matches against Japan and Canada, with the last one a crucial one to go into the Cup competition.

Coach, Neil Powell was pretty happy with the fire in the belly shown by his team after the unexpected defeat against Scotland.

“We knew Canada was a very important game for us, not only for this tournament, but in the context of the series. The guys went out there and fought hard, as we really wanted this result. They knew a draw or loss would put us out of the Cup competition, so really went out there to rectify the mistakes from that opening game against Scotland.”

Powell was full of praise for Samoa, who finished the day undefeated.

“Samoa will be physical. We lost against them last year at the same stage, hopefully we can change the result.”

South Africa scored 31 unanswered points against Canada, who won the previous World Series tournament in Singapore.

Chris Dry, playing in his 61 tournament, scored a hat-trick of tries in a strong second half showing, while Werner Kok was the strong player in the opening seven minutes, scoring two great tries.

Earlier, South Africa outplayed Japan 35-5 in their second match.

A brace of tries by Shakes Soyizwapi and Cecil Afrika were headline acts, important ones as the Blitzboks got the momentum they needed for the rest of the day.

Earlier, they were surprised by the Scots, who were more urgent and efficient on the attack.

Philip Snyman got the first try, his 50th in his career to give South Africa a 5-0 lead in the opening minutes, but then Scotland scored twice.

Afrika was sin-binned early in the second half as Scotland scored again to take a 19-5 lead.

A late try by Soyizwapi proved too little too late.

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